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I’m Manly — part 8 in a series glancing back

July 13, 2017

There’s no expiration date on God’s ability to work through people like him.

He’s one of the people from whom Irene heard about church camp. (If you’re wondering who Irene is, scroll down to my blog from yesterday.)

A retired high school science teacher, he was one of the first people I’d met when I was appointed to his church as the new pastor.

Arriving at my initial meeting with the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee before the District Superintendent got there, I knew no better than to go ahead and get out of the car and go on in.

Several Committee members were there.

I was shaking hands and introducing myself to them, having a great time.

Then one of the men said, “Hi. I’m manly.”

I laughed and replied, “Oh yeah? I’m Joe. And I’m pretty manly, too.”

“That’s my name.”

“You’re a Joe, too? Good to meet you, Joe!”

“No, I’m not Joe. I’m manly!”

While I was trying to figure out my next line, a woman came up by him. “Good evening, Rev. Scheets. I’m Mary, and this is my husband. His first name is spelled M-a-n-l-e-y.”

“Sure, sure! Manley! Of course!” (Will the DS ever get here?! And what am I doing here?!) “Good to meet you, Mary!”

They turned out to be two of the most delightful people in a thoroughly delightful church it’s ever been my delight to serve. And if you see a pattern of delight in that sentence, you’ve just heard my delighted assessment of that congregation.

Somewhere in my first couple of years as pastor there, Manley heard me talking with others about church camp. He immediately asked if there’d be any room for a retired, run down high school science teacher.

Knowing him to be anything but run down, I assured him we could.

When Manley and I walked into his first Camp Counselor Training Day together, the group fell silent. It was easy to read their faces: What’s Joe done now? Is this some hitchhiker he picked up driving here? Is this another guest speaker Joe’s dragged in from state agency?

When we got to the opening day of  church camp, Manley was everywhere at once. Introducing himself to campers. Helping them carry the month’s worth of supplies they’d brought for the week. Assuring the adults dropping them off that it was going to be a wonderful week, and that he the other adults would take good care of your camper, so you just go on back home now, have a great week yourself, and we’ll see you Saturday morning.

When we got to the first full day of church camp, Manley was being followed by a group of campers who hung on his every word, showed him things they’d found in the woods, asked him their follow up questions from that morning’s devotional or group lesson time or last night’s sermon. Or they just hung out with him to be close to him.

Manley listened. He took them, their questions, and their concerns seriously.

Manley cared.

There’s no expiration date on God’s love shining though people like Manley.

And you.


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  1. Gwendy permalink

    And since I’ve known Ma let every day of my conscious life, can I tell you what it means to be known, accepted and lived by this man? Truly a gift from God, one of our saints, for sure!!


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